Monday, March 7, 2011

Epitaph March: Week One (1.01-1.06)

By Faith (the Vampire Slayer)

"Dollhouse. Dollhouse! Doll-freaking-house!"

Going back and rewatching these episodes after watching season 2 a few times has been very eye-opening. Every time I go through them I notice something new. I hope you have enjoyed keeping up with my viewing progress via our twitter feed. We've sparked some interesting dialogue, especially about these early episodes that people generally don't like.

What can I say about the first six episodes? I never had a big problem with them. I think that is mostly because I had been a Whedon fan for a while by the time the show started, so I'd learned that with his shows you have to let the main idea develop before he hits you over the head with something spectacularly amazing. At the same time, I'm not the choosiest of tv fans. I don't watch a lot of what is on tv, but if it's smart and fun I'll watch it (though I've been known to watch episodes of shows like The Bachelor simply for the mockability factor). But there's something to be said for the unique intelligence of a Whedon show.

The first six episodes give us stories about lust, fear, sorrow, greed, and joy. At this point we know that the Dollhouse is evil. Or at least it should be. They are trafficking human beings, whoring them out to the highest bidder, and often putting them at serious risk (of course that could just be Echo's penchant for danger coupled with Alpha's obsession with her, but more on that in a sec). But at the same time they seem to be safer than the outside world. They protect the dolls (well, most of them), they care for the dolls, they provide them with insanely good food, exercise, and a sense of security. Some of them even seem to have compassion and personal concern for the dolls (we'll get into that soon too, promise). This has to be one of the most morally confusing shows on television. And I know I'm not alone when I say I love this about the show.

Rewatching these episodes gave me a deeper appreciation of the show in a lot of ways. For example, episode 1.02, The Target. People hate on this episode all the time, and I admit to some frustration myself with the pace of plot development. But, rewatching it this time, I realized that this episode is really the story of Alpha. We still don't know if he's alive or much about him aside from the fact he's scary insane, but he is the hidden star of the story. He's the one who engineered this engagement and was the puppeteer behind the scenes. Interspersing the flashbacks throughout the main storyline just further emphasises this. I doubt I'm the first one to think of this, but it just became apparent to me how much he really is the star of the first season.

1.06, Man on the Street, is that episode that we all waited for. That game changer we were promised that would blow our minds. For me, the Joel Minor engagement is still my favorite. Patton Oswalt did such a good job of bringing a sweetness to the character. Plus, "PORN!" Need I say more?

Millie, played by our much beloved Miracle Laurie, was my favorite character from the start. I found the character totally believable and ratable. And then she turned out to be a doll. Am I the only one who didn't see that coming? I guess I should have because, hello, it's Joss. But I always end up saying that after the fact. I'm too willing to buy into whatever storyline he is going to use this time to break my heart.

I asked on our twitter feed where people watched the show for the first time. I wasn't officially part of the podcast yet, so I didn't get to engage you guys in any kind of "OMG IT'S HERE" spazzage when it started. A lot of people said they watched it on tv and then immediately bought the dvds to watch it again. I myself watched it at my professor's house. I know, sounds crazy, but that's the kind of awesome rossum possum world in which I live.

Well, I have rambled on far too long. I hope your rewatches are going well. Please send us your thoughts on twitter or through email. And if you are tweeting your own viewing, be it your first or fiftieth time, add the #EpitaphMarch hash tag so I can see what you think. I know we have a great group of listeners who have way more intelligent and interesting thoughts than I do. And if we've learned nothing else this week, you now know a little bit too much about how much I notice and covet shoes.

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